AbitibiBowater seeks 'many, many' concessions, including job cuts, at Bowater Mersey newsprint, commercial printing papers mill in Brooklyn, Nova Scotia, says union official; company aims to drop labor cost to C$80/tonne from C$97/tonne

LOS ANGELES , November 10, 2011 () – Bowater Mersey Paper Co. Ltd.’s Brooklyn, Nova Scotia, paper mill is being asked to accept significant workforce changes from its parent company, AbitibiBowater Inc., reported CBC News on Nov. 9.

At a meeting in Montreal, Quebec, on Wednesday, the parent company proposed “many, many concessions,” including job cuts, said Courtney Wentzell, president of the Bowater Mersey’s local union, following that meeting.

Wentzell did not give details of what AbitibiBowater is proposing, saying that he had to meet first with the union’s membership, as well as talk to union representatives and probably some Nova Scotia government officials, CBC News reported.

AbitibiBowater aims to bring its labor costs per tonne of paper produced down to C$80 from C$97.

In the past two years, 175 workers at the Bowater Mersey mill agreed to have their wages reduced by 22% in order to keep the mill in business, Wentzell said last week, reported CBC News.

Assistance for the mill in the form of lowered municipal taxes is being considered by the counties of Queens and Lunenburg, where the company has operations. In 2010, Bowater’s municipal taxes totaled C$1.4 million.

Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter said on Wednesday that he planned to talk with the company about the situation, saying that he would consider support if it meant “savings that go on year after year,” such as by cutting energy rates to make the mill more competitive, CBC News reported.

The Bowater Mersey mill has the capacity to produce 258,000 tonnes per year of newsprint and commercial printing papers, according to AbitibiBowater’s website.

The primary source of this article is CBC News, Toronto, Ontario, on Nov. 9, 2011.

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